A number of poems by W.B. Yeats are to be set to music in a new album featuring performances by Cathy Jordan, Kevin Burke, Eleanor Shanley, Seamie O’Dowd, John Doyle, members of Lúnasa and many others.
The album entitled I am of Ireland/Yeats in Song features 24 poems, set to new music by Raymond Driver,will be released in digital format on Friday, July 23. Over two years in the making, with 32 artists across three continents working remotely through the pandemic, the album is a triumph of collaboration.
Cathy Jordan will be joined on the new album by a number of traditional and folk music luminaries including: Eleanor Shanley, Seamie O’Dowd, Kevin Burke, pipers Mick O’Brien and Leonard Barry, Cillian Vallelly, Trevor Hutchinson, Colin Farrell and Dave Curley (Lúnasa), cellist Natalie Haas, fiddler Dana Lyn, harp player Cormac De Barra, guitarist Niall Hanna, John Doyle and Mick McAuley (Solas), Christine Collister (Richard Thompson Band), Fergal McAloon (The Whistlin’ Donkeys), Ashley Davis (Moya Brennan Band), Jackie Oates (The Unthanks) and newcomer Bríd O’Riordan, a traditional singer from West County Cork.
“Yeats wanted his poetry to be sung,” says Driver. “His poems lend themselves to music.” Considered to be one of Ireland’s greatest poets, William ButlerYeats (1865-1939) was raised in London and Sligo and wrote passionately on art and nature, aging and death, his love for Ireland and romantic love— in fact, a third of the songs focus on his unrequited love for the Irish revolutionary, Maud Gonne, mother of Seán MacBride.